Similar to sound therapy, music and the frequencies we listen to can have a significant effect on our emotions and mental state. Discovering the different feelings that various genres of music can evoke can help you use music as a tool for coping with addiction recovery. By understanding the best genre of music for you to listen to and implementing the positive effects of music into your recovery, you can better understand and influence your emotional state.

Benefits of Music

Music can have many benefits on the overall process of addiction recovery. Listening to music frequently has been shown to increase levels of social communication and improve self-awareness and the ability to regulate emotions. These three skills are critical in the process of addiction recovery and overall self-improvement.

Music Genres

There are many musical genres that categorize songs. As shown by a 2012 article by Christopher Rea, Pamelyn MacDonald, and Gwen Carnes titled “Listening to classical, pop, and metal music: An investigation of mood,” different music genres can produce different effects on people’s moods. Learning about the emotions different music genres can evoke will allow you to select music that will benefit you and help you to regulate your emotions during the process of recovery. The effects of listening to the most common music genres are explored below.


Classical music has the potential of inducing feelings of calmness, peace, or clarity. It may lead individuals to feel focused or relaxed when listening to classical music. 

Heavy Metal

Heavy metal tends to have the opposite effect as classical music. Listening to heavy metal often increases levels of irritability and nervousness. It can provoke higher levels of energy or may onset feelings of anxiety. 


Rock music can increase levels of productivity and uplift moods. Through its upbeat rhythms, rock can produce a euphoric sensation that can be felt by listeners.


Pop music tends to ease the feeling of stress and confusion and promote happy feelings and relaxation. 


Country music often leads to feelings of sadness and can increase negative thoughts. This is likely because country lyrics often involve sad stories or messages.

Different Perceptions

While these are common feelings associated with these genres of music, the effect of listening to a specific genre may not be the same for everyone. For example, while a majority of individuals find heavy metal to increase their levels of irritability and provoke feelings of anxiety, some people find heavy metal to have a cathartic or even calming effect.

These differences can be present within any genre of music. Understanding the way your mind and moods react to different genres and frequencies can help you learn how to regulate your emotions when they appear to be heightened.


Many individuals who use listening to music as a primary coping strategy will listen to music that gives them the same feelings they are dealing with, hoping to get an altered effect from increasing these feelings in a therapeutic matter. Others will try to listen to music that counteracts their current mood to influence it into an opposite state—for example, by listening to happy music when feeling sad or calm music when feeling angry. This can help alleviate one emotion and replace it with another.

Understanding your typical response regarding your music choices relative to your emotions is important on a level of self-awareness. Understanding your reasoning for listening to the genre you choose and how it affects you can help you see if your current strategy is beneficial to your mental health. If not, you can try the opposite approach, or you can try other coping strategies that do not involve music.

Likes vs. Dislikes

Measuring the overall effect of specific genres on everyone’s emotions is not statistically possible. After all, everybody has a different taste in music. Your cultural surroundings may also influence the music you are familiar with and the music you enjoy. Due to these discrepancies, music genres are not scientifically proven to have the effects listed above on everyone.

Listening to music that you enjoy or that is more familiar to you typically will cause an increase in brain activity, improving your emotional state overall. Music that you dislike or are unfamiliar with may not create this same result. Hearing a song that you have previously associated with negative emotions may bring back unpleasant memories and cause negative emotions to arise again. 

Self-awareness is extremely important because of these discrepancies in the effects of music genres on different people. Understanding the way that different types of music make you feel can help you use music as a coping resource. Try to listen to a variety of genres and write down how each one makes you feel. Take a break in between each genre to reset your emotional state and accurately determine your emotional changes from each music genre. Using the common emotions with popular music genres listed above, you can have a base starting point of what emotions to expect.

Different music genres contain different frequencies and patterns that can alter your mood and emotions. Using music as a coping mechanism through addiction recovery can be beneficial, especially as you are learning to regulate your emotions. Some individuals listen to music that matches their feelings, while others listen to music that counteracts their feelings. Each of these strategies can be beneficial in emotional regulation. While each of us has our own desired taste in music, many people experience the same general emotional effects when listening to specific genres. Discovering the effects of each main genre of music and possible new music genres to implement into your daily life can help you regulate your emotions through your addiction recovery process. To learn more about the effects of music on your emotions and to differentiate the effects of each genre, reach out to Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.

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